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China to spend $146 bln on quake reconstruction

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BEIJING, Nov 6 (Reuters) - China will spend 1 trillion yuan ($146.5 billion) over the next three years to rebuild areas ravaged by the Sichuan earthquake, local media reported on Thursday, citing the country's top planning agency.

The May 12 quake killed 80,000 people and left about 10 million homeless as whole villages were razed across a broad swath of southwest China.

The funds would have the goal of making "basic living standards and economic development match or exceed pre-quake levels", the Beijing News said, citing the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The budget, allocated to 51 of the hardest-hit counties in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, would include 120 billion yuan for health, education and other basic services, the NDRC said in a notice on its website (www.ndrc.gov.cn).

Other funds would be divided among housing construction, industrial development, environmental protection and big-ticket infrastructure projects, including a multi-billion yuan railway connecting Sichuan capital Chengdu with the quake-damaged town of Dujiangyan.

The quake reconstruction budget follows calls from Chinese officials for swift measures to lift government spending to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis.

China plans to spend 5 trillion yuan on roads, waterways and ports in the next three to five years, a massive increase over initial budget plan of 2 trillion yuan, according to a report in the semi-official China Business News on Wednesday.

Chinese media has also reported that the government has approved a total of 2 trillion yuan for railway investment since the start of 2004, of which 1.2 trillion has already been spent.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby and Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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